The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14)
O Lord, fill me with light that I would see my sinfulness.
Picture Jesus with His disciples.
The two men both arrive at the hour of prayer (either 9:00AM or 3:00PM). Three aspects mark the Pharisee – his prominent position, the sins he has avoided and his good deeds which go beyond what is prescribed.
In contrast, the tax collector stands at a distance, is considered a robber (by respectable people) and recounts no good deeds. He strikes his heart (the source of all sin). His prayers and actions actually show a total helplessness of ever correcting his life. The parable is spoken to the religiously self-confident.
Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
Jesus spoke to those who trusted in themselves and despised others.
A Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the temple to pray. Standing, the Pharisee prayed, “I thank you, God, that I am not like the rest of men – greedy, dishonest and adulterers – as is this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give tithes on all that I possess.”
The tax collector stood afar off, not even raising his eyes to heaven. He struck his breast while saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
I say to you that this tax collector returned to his home justified rather than the other.
Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)
- The parable has two scenes – one in the temple and one in heaven.
- The temple scene is familiar, two men praying.
- What happens in heaven, however, shocks his listeners. The tax collector is justified.
- The Pharisee sets the stage for the tax collector. He is the one who has the correct attitude and prayer.
- The tax collector is in total despair, locked into a disreputable lifestyle and, seemingly, has no ability to change.
- Seemingly, he has no good resolutions.
- However, he experiences the beginning step of conversion – a broken and contrite spirit.
Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
- O God, I have absolutely nothing to offer you.
- I have no spiritual strength, no good deeds and no resolutions.
- Yet, I dare to enter your temple of prayer.
- I offer you only one gift – an empty heart and a broken spirit.
- But you accept this as the first steps on my new journey.
- Your words encourage me, “This man went home justified.”
- Your mercy is everywhere. Even I can hope.
Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
+ Even in my most sinful moments, I will turn to God for mercy.
+ I will never allow the candle of my hope to go out.
Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.)
This man went home justified, but the other did not.